Who would win between Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan is a debate that has raged for decades. Of all the martial arts stars who have made it to the big screen over the years, none are bigger than Lee and Chan. Their reputation as two of the biggest stars in the history of the genre is undisputed.
Lee’s importance to cinema is defined by how he catapulted martial arts films to new levels of popularity in the early 1970s. He is not responsible for launching the arts film genre. martial arts, but it has a lot to do with the kung fu craze as big as it was. What Lee brought to the table as an actor and as a martial artist made him an instant icon in Hong Kong. Released posthumously in 1973, Enter the dragon turned Bruce Lee into an even bigger sensation. It revolutionized the direction of the genre to such an impressive degree that it launched an era known as Bruceploitation, which was a period when Hong Kong studios relied on dozens of Bruce Lee imitators.
Among the many actor studios chosen to be the next Bruce Lee was Jackie Chan. In the 1970s, Chan starred in a number of kung fu films where the action was modeled after Lee’s films. But over time, it was discovered that Chan was at his best when he was allowed to distance himself from Lee. Once he had the chance to distance himself from the Bruce Lee style and forge his own screen image, Chan made a massive mark on the industry and remained kung fu’s leading star for decades. Due to the actors’ respective reputations, many wondered which martial artist was the superior fighter. Here’s what we know about Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan’s fighting styles, and who would most likely win if the two came to blows.
What Happened When Bruce Lee Fought Jackie Chan In A Movie
Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan never fought in real life, but they knew each other and even worked together when they were both employed at the Golden Harvest studio. Chan was a stuntman for both fist of fury and Enter the dragon. He also played unnamed minions in both films. In Enter the dragon, he had a brief run-in with Lee himself. During a scene where Lee had to take on multiple enemies at once, one of the thugs – played by Chan – jumped on him and grabbed him from behind. With ease, Lee slipped out of the hold, trapped his opponent’s arm behind his back, and held him by the hair while kicking one of the villain’s lackeys. As the camera focused on Bruce Lee’s sinister expression, the hero seemingly broke Chan’s character’s neck off-screen.
Later in the same Enter the dragon scene, Lee got hold of a stick and used it to beat anyone who came near it. Chan, presumably playing a different character, was among the group of men who rushed Lee. This time he descended even faster than before. A slash from Lee knocked Chan out of action. Years later, Chan shared a behind-the-scenes story about his Enter the dragon experience and explained that he was really hurt by the blow. Afterwards, Lee continued the scene but apologized to Chan when it was over.
How Jackie Chan’s Martial Arts Style Compares To Bruce Lee’s
Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan are both kung fu experts, but not all of the same styles, as there are hundreds of different forms of kung fu. Lee’s foundation was built on Wing Chun, which is a “soft, tenderstyle that places heavy emphasis on an opponent’s reflexes, timing, and redirecting attacks. Lee learned Wing Chun in his youth, but eventually created his own style – Jeet Kune Do – which combines several fighting styles outside of kung fu. Rather than relying on traditional stances and moves, Bruce Lee incorporated elements of western boxing, taekwondo, karate, and more. in the principles of Jeet Kune Do.
Jackie Chan has a similar level of versatility in terms of martial arts prowess. Like Lee, he was never nailed to a specific fighting style. Chan mainly practices hapkido (a Korean form of martial arts), Southern Shaolin kung fu, Northern Shaolin kung fu, and Wing Chun, although this is not the limit of his expertise. In Chan’s own words, his “the style is chop suey: everything” [via Quora].
Lee and Chan had experience in some of the same fighting styles (Wing Chun), but how they fight on screen differs greatly. Lee has a propensity for brutality and speed, while Jackie Chan is known for his acrobatics and improvisation. Chan is known for weaponizing everything around him, as well as his extraordinary athletic ability, which has served him well in jumping and dodging. These aspects of his fighting style complimented the comedic tone of his films. Lee, on the other hand, focused more on close combat and practical techniques.
Why Bruce Lee would have beaten Jackie Chan in a fight
One of the most common arguments related to Bruce Lee vs. Jackie Chan is that Lee would win because Chan’s talents lie primarily in his comedic acting style and athleticism, rather than pure martial arts skills. However, this unfair claim discounts some of Chan’s most impressive martial arts performances during his long acting career. The last fights he had with Benny “The Jet” Urquidez in dragons forever and Wheels on Meals, for example, perfectly show just how good Chan really was at kung fu. In other words, Chan should be taken seriously as a true martial artist in the same vein as Lee. As someone who is so much more than just a stunt performer, Chan would surely have provided a tough challenge for Lee had they fought in real life.
Despite all of Jackie Chan’s skills, it’s likely that Bruce Lee would still prevail in a one-on-one fight. After all, Lee has the advantage of having real combat experience. It’s no secret that Lee was involved in gang violence during his teenage years in Hong Kong and was regularly involved in brutal rooftop matches with other kung fu students. He also had his fair share of fights as an adult, the most famous example being his fight with Wong Jack Man. Additionally, Lee was renowned for his speed. Those who trained with him, like Chuck Norris and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, had nothing but praise for how quickly Lee could execute an attack. In fact, several stories highlight the remarkable speed Lee possessed as a fighter. Chan was fast himself, but there is no evidence to suggest he can match Lee’s speed. So during Jackie Chan would certainly have what it takes to deliver a thrilling showdown, the odds would still be in by Bruce Lee foster.
NEXT: Why Bruce Lee’s Northern Leg Southern Fist Movie Was Never Made